Tom D’Angora is a producer and activist. During the pandemic he and his husband, Michael, with the help of friend Tim Guinee, have raised hundreds of thousands of dollars to save places like the West Bank Cafe and Birdland. This weekend he is turning his fundraising and production skills to save the York Theatre (with the help of other friends like Hillary Clinton). Here’s Tom’s West Side Story.
So, what’s your New York story? Born here, or just arrived?
Born in Boston, moved here in the autumn of 2000, and fell in love instantly.
How did you end up in Hell’s Kitchen?
My first apartment was a 500 square foot apartment that I shared with 3 roommates on W47th Street, directly behind the Palace Theater. It was a bit cramped but the most fun I’ve ever had in my life. We used to go up to the roof every night and watch the Coke sign lights turn off, It was the most amazing introduction to the magic that is Times Square. I took a brief hiatus and lived in the lower east side for a few years, but in 2005 I moved back to HK and have been here ever since — and I’m NEVER leaving.
What’s your favorite thing about Hell’s Kitchen?
I love that we are one of the most famous neighborhoods in the world — and despite being constantly overrun with tourists, it’s still a neighborhood like any other neighborhood, more so in fact. We all know each other and watch each other’s back. I think the community in HK is one of the most tight-knit communities in the world.
And what’s your Hell’s Kitchen pet peeve?
I don’t like that there are 7-Elevens here. They have no place in HK — or NYC.
Did you stay put when the pandemic hit or did you find an escape for some of the time?
Of course I stayed put. I live in the greatest city in the world and the pandemic didn’t change that. It is an honor to be a New Yorker and I will stand by this city through good times and bad.
What did you do for work pre-COVID? What are you doing now?
Theater Producer… I still produce virtual theater, I just don’t get paid for it LOL.
What’s the most interesting thing that you’ve learned during the pandemic?
That tragedy can really bring out the best in a community. We’ve witnessed that first-hand here on W42nd Street.
Tell us one thing that’s given you hope during the pandemic?
Our incredible community.
What’s the most serendipitous (random/obscure/ insane) experience that’s happened to you in Hell’s Kitchen?
Me and my husband Michael met an awesome guy named Tim Guinee at the West Bank Cafe, and although we were complete strangers we decided instantly to partner up and help struggling businesses survive the pandemic. We have been doing it ever since.
What’s your closest brush with world fame and celebrity?
I was on the advance team for Hillary Clinton’s Presidential campaign and I had full Secret Service clearance. So I got to be around a lot of powerful/famous people. It was AMAZING!
What song do you sing at the top of your voice in the shower?
Barry Manilow songs.
Which people inspire you the most?
Hillary Rodham Clinton and Cher
What’s your favorite quote or saying?
Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as ever you can
Do you love Times Square? Why, or why not?
I love it with all my heart… It is the center of the universe for a reason!
Do you love Hudson Yards? Why, or why not?
I don’t care for The Vessel… I mean, who thought that was a good idea?
If you could bring one thing (person/place/event) back to HK that is no longer around, what would it be?
Add your shameless plug or personal profile?
I am producing an ALL STAR benefit — THE MUSICAL OF MUSICALS (THE MUSICAL!) — for the York Theatre Company on April 18… The roster includes, Hillary Rodham Clinton, Christy Altomare, Iain Armitage, Sara Bareillis, Nell Benjamin, Alexandra Billings, Betty Buckley, Lewis Black, Colleen Ballinger, Matthew Broderick, Charles Busch, André De Shields, Giancarlo Esposito, Ana Gasteyer, Amanda Green, Joel Grey, Sheldon Harnick, Perez Hilton, Megan Hilty, Joe Iconis, Tom Jones, Richard Kind, Kevin Smith Kirkwood, Jose Llana, Richard Maltby, Alan Menken, Julieanne Moore, Kelvin Moon Loh, Darlene Love, Patti LuPone, Telly Leung, Lesli Margherita, Andrea McArdle, Audra McDonald, Debra Messing, Lauren Molina, Jinkx Monsoon, Donna Murphy, Isaac Mizrahi, Brad Oscar, Mandy Patinkin, Christine Pedi, Bernadette Peters, Martha Plimpton, Anthony Rapp, Randy Rainbow, Jelani Remy, Chita Rivera, Soara-Joye Ross, Mercedes Ruehl, Jackie Sanders, Marc Shaiman, Brooke Shields, Ethan Slater, Sarah Stiles, John Tartagula, Renee Taylor, Ben Vereen, Michael West, Lillias White, David Yazbek, and Maurey Yeston… for more info go to www.yorktheatre.org
Please donate to our “Rebuild The York Campaign”.
HELL’S KITCHEN HAPPY PLACES
West Bank Cafe (W42nd St between 9/10th Ave). The best food and service in the city! It’s my favorite place in NYC. It’s our second home. I highly recommend “Tom’s Pork chop” it’s delicious.
Birdland Jazz Club (W44th St between 8/9th Ave). The music, the history, the people… also the fries are AMAZING!
Mark Fisher Fitness (W39th St between 9/10th Ave). It’s more than a gym, it’s a community. It’s the most fun you will ever have working out.
Patzeria Perfect Pizza (W46th St between 8th Ave/Broadway). The best pizza and subs in HK. The chicken parm hero is a winner!
Brazen Tavern (W44th St between 8/9th Ave). I pray it reopens, it’s my favorite place to have a beer and pub food. I love the staff and the vibe so much.
Don’t Tell Mama (Restaurant Row). I’ve had so many great times there. Seen/done so many shows. Always a blast.
Domus (W44th St between 9/10th Ave). Hands down the best place ever to find a unique and fabulous gift! I LOVE IT!!! The staff is so welcoming and helpful. It’s a great shopping experience.
Delphinium Home (W47th St between 8/9th Ave). They have always had the coolest inventory. I got one of my first Hillary for President shirts ever there, back in ’05. They are always on the right side of history and have the most fun and progressive items.
Joe Allen (Restaurant Row). The wings, the steak, the banana cream pie! Also you always bump into someone you know.
Green Room 42 (W42nd St and 10th Avenue in YOTEL). It’s a wonderful place to see a show, great vibe and atmosphere. A fabulous addition to our neighborhood.